Binding assays are vital for biological research. Without them, researchers cannot understand how molecules interact and therefore cannot develop any groundbreaking findings in the areas of medicine, molecular biology, biochemistry, and other fields. However, many people do not have a strong understanding of binding experiments, or how to design these experiments effectively.
What Are Binding Affinity Assays?
Binding affinity assays are analytic processes that measure interactions between two different molecules in an experiment. The most common types of experiments that involve binding affinity assays include two proteins binding together, a protein binding to a nucleic acid, or a protein binding to another small molecule. Understanding binding affinities is crucial in the study of protein-protein interactions.
There are two basic criteria for a successful experiment involving binding assays and examining protein binding reactions:
- The reactions involved in a binding experiment must be at equilibrium during measurement.
- The concentration of one of the reactants involved must vary from the other.
Whatever the findings prove to scientists, they can help inform the experiment. Knowing how different molecules react with one another can advance research significantly.
What Types of Assays Are Available to Researchers?
Multiple types of assay analysis processes are available for researchers to use during binding experiments. Different assays work best for different types of experiments and molecules involved. Some researchers can use multiple assay processes to replicate certain results.
There are two main types of assays: chemical assays and optical assays. Chemical assays use gel electrophoresis, immunoblots, and ELISA to help measure concentrations. However, these assays can be difficult to produce equilibrium measurements. Researchers have to be careful not to alter the equilibrium to complete the assay successfully.
Optical assays, while requiring more effort, are faster and simpler. They measure both the concentration of one of the substances while in equilibrium, along with the concentration of the other substances present. Researchers classify optical assays into the following categories:
- Labeled ligand-binding assays, which can include fluorescent ligand, radio ligand, MST assays and bio luminescent binding assays
- Label-free ligand binding assays, which can include surface plasmon resonance, SPR imaging, Nanofluidic Fluorescence Microscopy, and resonant waveguide grating
- Structure-based ligand binding assays, which can include X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance
- Thermodynamic binding assays, including thermal denaturation assays and isothermal titration calorimetry
- Whole cell ligand-binding assays, including surface acoustic wave biosensor and RWG biosensor
Why Does Measuring Binding Affinity Matter?
Researchers need to measure binding affinity to record necessary biomolecular interactions. Measuring binding affinity can lead to incredible breakthroughs and scientific developments if done correctly using the right assays. Some of the benefits of using binding affinity assays to measure binding affinity include:
- Scientists can use binding affinity to determine how a reaction could translate into naturally occurring functions. This can be extremely helpful in determining how to develop medicines and other procedures.
- Scientists can precisely characterize necessary interactions between different biological molecules.
- Scientists can optimize the development of further assays by measuring how different molecules interact.
- Scientists can screen various compound and drug candidates for use in medicine.
- Scientists can monitor how the body regulates various cellular pathways.
- Scientists can accurately screen large and small molecules, as well as identify certain substances.
Researchers should take extra care to reduce their overall development time when measuring binding affinity. Choosing the right assay and the right binding affinity measurement system is key to conducting a successful experiment and producing accurate results.